Dawn phenomenon is the term given to an increase in blood sugar in the morning caused by the body’s release of certain hormones.

It is a relatively common phenomenon amongst diabetics

Although often confused, Dawn Phenomenon is different from Chronic Somogyi Rebound , because it is not brought on by nocturnal hypoglycemia.

How is dawn phenomenon caused?

Dawn effect occurs when hormones (including cortisol, glucagon, epinephrine) are released by the body, causing the liver to release glucose.

The dawn effect therefore describes abnormally high early morning increases in blood glucose :

  • Usually abnormally high blood glucose levels occur between 8 and 10 hours after going to sleep for people with diabetes

Why does the dawn phenomenon occur?

Researchers think that the release of the above-mentioned hormones may give rise to a brief period of insulin resistance which would also explain a rise in blood glucose levels.

How is dawn phenomenon treated?

Typically dawn phenomenon is treated by avoiding intake of carbohydrates at bedtime, adjusting how much insulin or medication is administered, switching to other medications or using an insulin pump.

I have high morning blood sugar, do I have dawn phenomenon?

High morning blood sugar can be down to a variety of things, including insufficient insulin, incorrect medication dosage, carbohydrate snacks before bed and more.

Testing blood glucose during the course of the night (say between 2 and 4 am) may help to establish when blood glucose levels are rising and therefore whether you are experiencing dawn phenomenon.

How do I correct dawn phenomenon?

Your doctor or healthcare professional will be able to help you to correct either dawn phenomenon or alternative reasons for high blood glucose levels in the early morning.

They may suggest one of the following to help stabilise your morning blood sugar levels:

  • Adjusting insulin dosage
  • Adjusting medication dosage
  • Switching to different medication
  • Switching to an insulin with a different profile of activity
  • Not eating carbohydrate snacks before bed
  • Using an insulin pump to administer extra insulin

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